All in One Guide to Gambling in New York

New York is one of the most exciting states in regards to online gambling,
and there are two reasons why:

  • They’re close to legalizing online poker.
  • They’re a large and wealthy state.

New York has had serious discussions on Internet poker over the last few
years, and they could very well be the next state to legalize and regulate
online gaming.

While the Empire State seems progressive on this front, they’ve also proven
to be draconian on some iGaming issues.

For one, they’ve executed a plan to bring down the world’s largest offshore
poker sites. They’ve also led a charge against daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites.

We’ll cover both of these incidents later, along with New York’s current laws
on Internet gambling.

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Online Gambling and New York Law

Many offshore gaming sites offer their services in New York, but this has
slowed due to the Empire State’s legal actions against iGaming companies.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t find a single offshore site operating in New
York, but the number has been drastically lowered due to fears of prosecution.

Does this mean that you’ll also be arrested if you try to play at the few
offshore sites found there? This is just one of the questions that we’ve going
to cover below.

Is Online Gambling Legal in New York?

No.

While New York doesn’t have specific language aimed at online gambling, they
do have broad laws that can punish operators. Going further, their legal actions
against operators (covered later) show that they do, in fact, think Internet
gambling is considered illegal.

Sec. 225.00 describes language that can be used to target offshore gaming
sites:

(4) “A person "advances gambling activity" when, acting other than as a
player, he engages in conduct which materially aids any form of gambling
activity. Such conduct includes but is not limited to conduct directed toward
the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device or
activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises,
paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus therefor, toward the solicitation or
inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the
playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement of any of its financial or
recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation. One advances
gambling activity when, having substantial proprietary or other authoritative
control over premises being used with his knowledge for purposes of gambling
activity, he permits such to occur or continue or makes no effort to prevent its
occurrence or continuation.”

The same section goes on to describe another law that can be used against
operators of iGaming or any other type of illegal gambling business:

(5) A person "profits from gambling activity" when, other than as a player,
he accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or
understanding with any person whereby he participates or is to participate in
the proceeds of gambling activity.

We’ve seen many states with broad definitions of illegal gambling like the
two excerpts above. New York is one of the few that actually uses this language
to fight against unlicensed iGaming operators.

What is Black Friday (Online Poker)?

On Friday, April 15, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted the
founders of the world’s largest offshore poker sites. This day is known as
“Black Friday” in the online poker community.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, led
the case against AbsolutePoker.com, FullTiltPoker.com, PokerStars.com and
UltimateBet.com.


Bharara’s indictment
explains the rationale behind the case as follows:

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme,
alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure
the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we
allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also
engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to
operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like
simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits."

As Bharara’s statement indicates, these poker sites violated the

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
(UIGEA). The UIGEA makes it
illegal for American financial institutions to process unlicensed iGaming
transactions.

The aforementioned sites disguised player deposits as bicycles, golf
equipment, flowers and jewelry so that U.S. financial banks would process them.

The end result is that many of the owners and executives forfeited millions
of dollars and/or spent time in prison.

Why do Online Casinos not Serve New York?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York acts as the
federal law enforcement agency around New York City and surrounding counties.

Given this office’s location, combined with Bharara’s actions, online gaming
sites have wisely avoided New York after Black Friday.

During Bharara’s time in office (2009 to 2017), he developed the reputation
as a “crusader” after doing the following in his 8 year tenure:

  • Going after Wall Street executives for insider trading.
  • Closing multibillion dollar hedge funds.
  • Conducting political corruption investigations into Democrats and
    Republicans.
  • Prosecuting terrorism and civil rights cases.

Bharara was asked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign in March 2017,
along with all other attorneys appointed under the Obama Administration. He was
fired after refusing to resign.

Even with Bharara out of office, most offshore gambling sites still stay out
of New York due to the past events.

Another reason why they don’t serve New York is because of the penalties for
unlicensed operators. Any individual/business who collects over $5,000 in
unlicensed daily bets faces felony gambling charges.

Will I be Arrested for Gambling Online in New York?

It’s possible, but highly unlikely.

Despite their tough stance against Internet gaming operators, New York has
never arrested anybody for gambling online.

Online gaming has been available for over two decades. If the Empire State
hasn’t prosecuted anybody by now, they probably never will.

It’s clear from their legal precedence that they’re mainly concerned about
illegal offshore operators.

This could change if/when New York legalizes online poker. But as seen with
Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, regulated states take serious measure to block
offshore sites.

Are Offshore Gaming Sites Safe?

When you find an offshore gambling site serving New York, is it safe to play?

This all depends upon the specific site and their history of dealing with
players. The best way to answer this question is to do research by reading
reviews and visiting sites directly.

Here are key points you want to look for in reviews and when visiting sites
yourself:

  • Bonus Terms – How much do you have to wager to earn your welcome bonus?
    What’s the match percentage? These are two important questions to answer
    before depositing.
  • Customer Service – You definitely want a gaming site that’s good at
    dealing with customers in a friendly and timely manner.
  • Deposit Options – Before you invest too much time into researching a
    specific site, make sure that they have deposit options you can use.
  • Game Variety – Whether you’re dealing with an online casino or
    sportsbook, variety is important so that you’re always entertained.
  • Longevity – The longer a gaming site has been around, the more likely
    they are to be reputable and offer their players good service.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in New York?

Yes.

The State Legislature passed a daily fantasy sports bill in the summer of
2016. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it official by signing the legislation into effect
in August 2016.

DFS operators must obtain licensing and pay a 15% tax on revenue made in New
York.

Prior to legalizing the activity, the Empire State had a long and interesting
history with DFS.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sued industry leaders
DraftKings and FanDuel to force them out of the state.

DraftKings and FanDuel had been operating in New York and other states
because there was no law against doing so. Furthermore, fantasy sports are the
one thing exempt from the UIGEA, meaning any bank can process their
transactions.

But Schneiderman was adamant that DFS was illegal, telling
PBS’ Frontline that the activity doesn’t differ from any other form of
gambling
.

“They [DraftKings & FanDuel] take a rake, they take a portion of each betting
pot,” he said.”These are not a new version of traditional fantasy sports. This
is just a new version of Internet gambling, more in common with Internet poker
than with traditional fantasy sports leagues.”

After a long legal battle, the two DFS sites agreed that their advertisements
misled players into thinking they could easily win. DraftKings and FanDuel each
paid a $12 million fine, and are now licensed in New York’s DFS market.

Also On This Page

More Gambling Laws in New York

  • Casino Games: Legal
  • Sports Betting: Illegal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Racing Betting: Legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Bingo: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Social Gambling: Legal

Casinos: Legal


The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (GRA) of 1988 paved the way for Native
American tribes and state governments to negotiate casino compacts.

New York did so with their tribes in 1993, paving the way for Class II gaming
like bingo, poker, raffles and slot machines. Under Class II gaming, New York’s
tribal slots must produce results through a lottery server.

Oneida Indian Nation was the first New York tribe to benefit from the IGRA
when they built and opened Turning Stone Casino in 1993.

In 2003, the state and tribes renegotiated so that the latter could offer
Class III gaming. This includes Vegas style gaming like baccarat, blackjack,
craps, roulette and slot machines that run through random number generators.

Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel became the first to offer Class III gaming in
New York. Today, all three New York tribes with casinos – Oneida Nation, Seneca
Nation and St. Regis Mohawks – offer Class III gaming in one or more of their
venues.

In 2013, the state passed the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development
Act, which legalized commercial casinos.

Initially, New York will only allow four commercial casinos to limit in-state
competition to tribes. Three of the licenses have been awarded to the Catskills,
Finger Lakes and Schenectady areas.

Over time, the Empire State will add three slots parlors, making for a total
of seven commercial casinos.

Cruise Gambling: Illegal


New York based cruise ships are also allowed to offer gambling in
international waters.

These cruises used to only have to travel three miles offshore before casino
gambling begins. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pushed the federal
government to create a 12-mile requirement for gambling cruises. Giuliani’s
reasoning is that he thought it would help prevent terrorism, but it also forced
some gambling cruises to close as they lost popularity.

After all, most gamblers don’t appreciate waiting three hours until they’re
12 miles offshore.

Charitable Gambling: Legal


Sec. 185 (4) of the state constitution governs the charity gaming industry.

This section states that educational, fraternal, service, veteran and
volunteer fireman charities can apply for licensing. Every member who runs these
functions must have been an active member for at least three years.

Approved charity games include bingo, bell jars, raffles and seal cards.
Poker, other skill based card games and Vegas style gaming are banned from
charity-purposed gambling.

Lottery: Legal


New York has America’s largest lottery, with annual revenue now topping $9.7
billion.

Available games include: Cash4Life, Mega Millions, Numbers, Pick 10,
Powerball, Quick Draw, Take 5 and Win 4.

Poker: Legal


New York features 5 poker rooms, with Turning Stone offering the largest one.
Their poker room features 32 tables, and is the site for the show Poker Night in
America.

Racing: Legal


New York has a long and rich history of pari-mutuel betting. It began in
1895, and served as one of the early hotbeds for horseracing.

Today, New York still has one of the biggest pari-mutuel wagering industries
in America, but, like other states, they’ve seen the market drop in recent
decades.

This is why the state voted to allow slots at racetracks in the mid 2000s.

Social Gambling: Legal


The New York criminal code carves out an exception for social gambling in
Sec. 225.00 (3), which you can see below:

"A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with the
other participants therein does not otherwise render material assistance to the
establishment, conduct or operation thereof by performing, without fee or
remuneration, acts directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game
…"

As long as nobody treats a social gaming function as an illegal gambling
business (i.e. taking rake, selling alcohol), there’s nothing wrong with the
activity in New York.

Gambling Venues in New York

The Empire State features over 30 gambling facilities, including commercial
casinos, racetracks, slots parlors and tribal casinos.

Overall, this gives players access to a combined 37,000 gaming machines and
over 1,100 table games.

New York City’s Resorts World is the largest casino, featuring 5,000 slot
machines and 475 table games. Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel is the second
biggest casino, offering 3,300 gaming machines and 100 table games.

You can see details on these casinos and a few other gaming venues below.

New York Map

    1) Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway

    810 Yonkers Avenue Yonkers, New York

    2) Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

    5857 Route 96 Farmington, New York

    3) Norwegian Cruise Lines – Breakaway

    A711 12th Ave New York, New York

    4) Resorts World Casino New York City

    110-00 Rockaway Boulevard New York, New York

    5) Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady

    695 Rotterdam Industrial Park Schenectady, New York

    6) Royal Flush Casino – Carnival Splendor Cruise

    711 12th Avenue New York, New York

    7) Saratoga Casino Hotel

    342 Jefferson St Saratoga Springs, New York

    8) Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel

    777 Seneca Allegany Boulevard Salamanca, New York

    9) Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino

    1 Fulton Street Buffalo, New York

    10) Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel

    310 Fourth Street Niagara Falls, New York

    11) Turning Stone Resort & Casino

    5218 Patrick Road Verona, New York

History of Gambling in New York

New York has one of the longest gambling histories in the U.S. This history
begins in 1821, when the state banned all forms of gaming in the constitution.

The Empire State’s gambling market didn’t pick up until the 1890s, when they
legalized pari-mutuel betting and founded the State Racing Commission.

The Hart-Agnew Law
of 1908 banned pari-mutuel betting, though, and forced it underground.

After seeing every New York racetrack close down and surrounding business
affected, the State Legislature announced that the bill only covers bookmakers.
This led to the relaunch of New York’s pari-mutuel industry to help it thrive
again.

In 1966, the state legalized lottery tickets. This is a major milestone
because the New York State Lottery now sells more tickets than any lottery in
the U.S.

In 1993, New York signed a casino compact with Native American tribes,
allowing them to offer Class III gaming.

Two decades later, the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act was
signed, allowing for commercial casinos.

What’s most exciting about New York’s gambling history is their recent
efforts to legalize online poker.

These efforts began when an Internet poker bill was almost included in the
2013 state budget. At the time of this writing, an online poker bill has passed
the State Senate and is under review in the State Assembly.

1821

State Legislature bans all gambling in the constitution.

1864

State bans lotteries.

1895

State Racing Commission.

1908

Hart-Agnew Law band pari-mutuel betting and other forms of gambling.

1913

Court rules that Hart-Agnew law only covers bookmakers: pari-mutuel betting picks back up.

1957

Charity bingo legalized through constitutional amendment.

1966

Lottery tickets go on sale, with proceeds going to educational fund.

1973

New York State Racing and Wagering Board formed.

1988

Congress passes the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to allow tribal casino.

1993

Oneida Nation opens Turning Stone Casino, which is the state’s first casino.

1993

New York and tribes casino compact; tribal venues can offer Class IIII gaming.

1997

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pushes for changes to gambling cruise laws; cruise ship gambling pushed from three miles to 12 miles offshore.

2003

State and tribes renegotiate to allow Class III gaming like baccarat, craps, roulette, slot machines, and video poker.

2012

Commercial casinos allowed under amendment to New York Constitution.

2012

Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act creates four destinations for gaming resorts.

2013

Online poker legislation is included in budget plan draft, but cut in final version.

2014

State Sen. John Bonacic introduces online poker bill, but it doesn’t receive a vote.

2015

State Legislature has discussion on Internet gambling; New York State Lottery sets record with $97 billion in tickets sales.

2016

Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee passes online poker bill, but the legislation doesn’t recieve a vote; Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs daily fantasy sports into effect.

2017

New York Senate passes online poker legislation.

New York Gambling FAQs

While New York has legalized daily fantasy sports, they have yet to regulate
other forms of online gaming.

Will this happen any time soon? Can you gamble on mobile devices in the
meantime?

These are a couple of questions that we’ve received from players, and you can
see the answers below.

Will New York Legalize Online Gambling?

Considering Black Friday and Schneiderman’s battles against
DraftKings/FanDuel, it seems like New York is harsh against online gambling. The
reality though, is that they’re on the forefront of legalizing online poker.

The first effort was originally attached to the state’s budget plan in 2013.
However, this was pulled before the final draft was completed.

In 2016, the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee passed legislation
(SB 5302) to regulate Internet poker. The bill passed the State Senate by a 53
to 5 vote, but it failed to receive a vote in the Assembly.

Another online poker bill has passed the Senate in 2017. At the time of this
writing, the State Assembly is still reviewing the legislation.

Regardless of what the Assembly does, chances are strong that New York will
pass a bill sometime within the next couple of years.

Will New York Legalize Online Casino Games Too?

So far, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are the only states with legalized
iGaming.

Delaware and New Jersey both offer casino games and iPoker; Nevada only
offers online poker.

While none of these states have met their original and lofty revenue
projections, New Jersey and Delaware are outperforming Nevada from a per capita
standpoint.

In New Jersey’s case, they’re earning over 80% of their iGaming revenue from
casino games.

New York isn’t interested in regulating Internet casino games right now. If
they do legalize online poker, they’d be wise to add casino gaming to the mix
ASAP.

Can I Gamble on My Smartphone in New York?

Earlier we covered how New York has yet to bust anybody for gambling online.

For the sake of precaution, note that New York’s criminal code does include
one section that can be used against online gamblers.

Section 225.00 (7) describes an illegal gambling device as follows:

"… means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment which is used or
usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether such activity
consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the
playing of a machine. Notwithstanding the foregoing, lottery tickets, policy
slips and other items used in the playing phases of lottery and policy schemes
are not gambling devices."

This definition would certainly cover a smartphone or tablet. Does it mean
that New York police will be actively looking for people playing mobile casino
games?

No. They have much bigger things to worry about than somebody playing at
offshore sites through their smartphone. The key, though, is to be aware of this
law just in case.

Is Online Sports Betting Illegal in New York?

In fact, New York indicted a California based online sports betting ring that
accepted over $1 billion worth of wagers.

Four California men operated the Internet sportsbooks Hustler272.org and
WagerABC.com. Gordon Mitchnick, the leader of the operation, used a Brooklyn
bookie to help launder money.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson told the
New York Daily News that this might be the largest sports betting ring ever
busted
.

“The principals of this huge gambling operation,” said Thompson,” possibly
the biggest one ever to be dismantled by a local prosecutor’s office – allegedly
moved millions of dollars around the United States and the world and used
various tactics to launder these proceeds.”

Additional Resources

The Empire State features two main gambling governing bodies, including the
New York State (NYS) Gambling Commission and New York Lottery. Here’s
information on both of these organizations along with notes on charity gambling.

  • New York State Gambling Commission
  • The NYS Gambling Commission is in charge of many of the state’s gambling
    facets, including charitable gaming, horseracing, and casinos.


  • New York Charitable Gambling Laws
  • Located on the NYS Gambling Commission website, this page features important
    information on the state’s charitable gaming laws and updates.

  • New York Lottery
  • The New York Lottery is the United States’ biggest lottery. This organization
    handles over $9.7 billion worth of revenue, awarding around half of this back in
    prizes.

The Future & Your Views

The Empire State is one of the closest states to legalizing online gaming.

They’ve introduced and discussed online poker legislation for several years
and are very serious about legalizing it.

Assuming this happens, New York would immediately become America’s largest
iGaming market at 19.75 million people. This includes the massive New York City
metropolitan area, which features a population of over 20.15 million.

The only catch, though, is that the Empire State doesn’t have plans to
legalize online casino games too. As we covered earlier, New Jersey has
benefited greatly from having both online casino and poker games.

The fact that New York is strongly considering any form of iGaming is good
news. This, combined with their DFS market, means that players could have
multiple online gambling options.

Looking at their population, we really hope that the Empire State legalizes
online poker. After all, this would create numerous headlines and influence
other states to push harder for Internet gambling.